The Ontario Trucking Association says it would like the upcoming provincial budget to include the occupation of “truck driver” within the In-Demand Skills stream of the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program (OINP).
Ontario’s economy is extremely multi-faceted, ranging from farming to manufacturing to knowledge-based businesses – all of which depend on the movement of freight in some way, says OTA. Trucking is both Ontario’s and Canada’s dominant mode of freight transportation, responsible for moving over 90 per cent of all consumer goods and foodstuffs as well as nearly two-thirds by value of Ontario-US trade. One of the threatening factors looming over the entire Ontario economy is the growing driver shortage crisis, which is only expected to escalate over the coming years, OTA explains.
“Overall demand for trucking remains strong, with the industry’s share of the total transportation sector continuing to grow. At the same time, the industry is also facing a demographic tsunami in terms of labour supply,” says OTA president Stephen Laskowski.
Both the Conference Board of Canada and transportation research firm CPCS have documented the shortage of truck drivers in Ontario. In the most recent report, the forecast in Ontario calls for a truck driver shortage of 14,000 drivers by 2024.
“The industry is taking steps to help address its labour shortages – from increasing wages to better marketing the opportunities available in the industry – but these measures alone will not be able to meet the labour needs over the coming years without access to labour through immigration,” said OTA Chair David Carruth. “This means that federal and provincial immigration programs will increasingly become an important tool to help supplement industry labour demands without compromising road safety standards.”
Like other Ontarians, all perspective truck drivers that are screened to participate in the OINP program would have to go through Ontario’s nation-leading, mandatory entry level training program and pass the Ministry of Transportation road test, followed by in-house training by their employer. Drivers going through the OINP program would expect to be making between $60,000-$80,000 in annual wages.
“This opportunity allows truck drivers successfully completing the program to provide a good living for their families and become active and contributing parts of communities throughout Ontario,” added Carruth.
OTA is not the only voice asking for government assistance with solving the truck driver shortage. The Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) and a group of over a dozen associations representing manufacturing and consumer product businesses, including the Canadian and Ontario Chamber of Commerce, wrote several federal ministers asking for support through program and initiatives like OINP.
‘Premier Ford has already introduced several measures that show his commitment to keeping Ontario open for business,” says Carruth. “Measures contained in Bill 66 and this government’s understanding of the cost impacts the federal carbon tax will have on our sector are just a few examples
“OTA believes the inclusion of ‘truck driver’ as an occupation within the In-Demand Skills stream of OINP would be a massive boost to our sector, reduce unnecessary red tape and will keep the Ontario economy moving.”